On tasting: Chief’s Son 900 Standard 45% and 60%, Chief’s Son Pure Malt, and the two Sweet Peat bottlings at 45% and 60%
I first visited Chief’s Son Distillery in July 2019, not long after their original whisky release. It’s an intriguing set-up, tucked away in an industrial site in Somerville, Mornington Peninsula, about an hour south of Melbourne. There’s a growing number of distilleries in the area, with JimmyRum and Bass & Flinders 20 minutes down the road, but Chief’s Son is Mornington’s main whisky producer (for the moment, there’s more coming).
The distillery was founded by Stuart and Naomi McIntosh, who’d both worked across a number of different business areas before constructing Chief’s Son in 2015-16 (check out our distillery profile for the full story). There are a lot of references to Scotland and McIntosh heritage woven into the Chief’s Son story, but it’s their whiskies I’m most fascinated by.
The first Chief’s Son single malts I tried were between three and four years old, and I was surprised by how varied the core range was. Instead of sticking with one style of spirit and changing casks for variety, Stuart and Naomi have created distinct spirit profiles within the core range that are built on different malts, peat levels and distillation techniques.
It’ll be interesting to see how this develops over time, as it can be a little confusing to remember what the numbers and names on each bottling signify, but it does make for fascinating drinking. Seppeltsfield fortified wine casks are the main constant – quite traditional, really, considering how experimental they’ve gone with their distillates. But an ex-Bourbon cask whisky has also been released, along with a stout and porter cask finish, and we’ve heard other wine cask whiskies might be on the cards in future.
Once the teething period’s through, I’m sure we’ll start to see more clarity and consistency, and I also think the whiskies will continue to improve with more time in barrel. So plenty to look forward to, because there’s already serious complexity and depth to chew on here.